Guest Blogger Jean-Marc Berne: How to power up your negotiation voice

You often hear about being well prepared before any negotiation.  Doing your homework, knowing your value, and preparing for every possible scenario.  While all of the above are essential to having a successful negotiation, it’s also important that the person you’re speaking with is able to receive your message because of the way you’re delivering it.

Your voice is the vehicle you use to conduct any negotiation.  So it becomes that much more critical that you’re aware of how you’re using your voice.  To make sure that you sound powerful during your next negotiation, we’ll start at the beginning: proper breathing.

Breathing is an involuntary function of the body. That is a fact. On the other hand, what is voluntary is the way that you breathe. I’ll go over exactly how you can take control of your breathing and power up your speech.

What I teach all my clients is to breathe through the mouth when speaking — you can take in more air, more quickly. Now why is that important for speech?

Imagine having to take a breath every two seconds during your negotiation. That would be really annoying for your listener, wouldn’t it? How do you avoid this? I’m providing two practices you can do before your negotiation.

How to breathe correctly:

  1. If you’re sitting down or standing, make sure your spine is straight, shoulders squared, and completely relaxed. Don’t hunch forward or lean back, as this will restrict the flow of oxygen to your lungs, and will cause strain to your voice.
  2. Put one hand on top of your belly button.
  3. Breathe in through your mouth.  Feel your stomach expanding frontwards, to the sides, towards your back, and down towards your pelvic area. This is your full lung capacity.

Now let’s take this one step further, where you will learn how to pace your breathing so that you feel powerful when you speak. The following exercise is called square breathing:

  1. Breathe in through your mouth for five seconds.
  2. Pause for five seconds.
  3. Exhale for five seconds.
  4. Pause for five seconds.

Repeat the above cycle at least three times. After doing this exercise, my clients have reported feeling calmer, more relaxed, energized and focused.

As you prepare for your next negotiation, make sure to do the above exercises beforehand.   Notice the sense of calm that you create in your own body.  The beauty of practicing this way of breathing is that as this calmness spreads throughout your body, you will also transmit that calmness in your voice.   Because you’re tapping into your center of power, you will command more presence and confidence during your meeting.

So go ahead: take a deep breath, relax and go forth and conquer.  And until next time, may “the voice” be with you!

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Known as the “voice master,” Jean-Marc Berne is the author of “The Heart-Voice Connection: How To Infuse Your Message With Real Emotion,” and he’s also an international public speaker and singer-songwriter. He is the voice over coach of the animated series The Octonauts, which airs on The Disney Channel. He powers up people’s voices to project, command confidence, engage their audiences, and connect with the heart of their stories, generating more money for their respective businesses. For more great speaking and communication tips, go to


Alexandra Dickinson

Alexandra Dickinson is the CEO and founder of Ask For It, a boutique consulting company working to close the gender wage gap by effecting change at both the institutional and individual level. We work with companies, schools, organizations and individuals through a combination of trainings, workshops and consulting. Our goal is for women and men to be paid based on their talents and skills, regardless of gender, and for our company to have been an important part of that change.